Posts Tagged ‘economy pictures’

Travel Nursing in a Faltering Economy

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Permanent Placement, Travel Nursing, Travel Nursing

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a friend who works for a travel nursing company in southern California. He got into this field because he felt that the nursing field was going to be a sure bet in this faltering economy. Now he’s nervous and not so sure about the security of his job.

Many hospitals in southern California have apparently cut way back on their need for travel nurses at the present time. This is especially true for general med/surg nurses. Many specialty areas such as ICU, NICU, telemetry, etc., are still looking to fill positions, but too many of the applicants only want med/surg and are still demanding high salaries. They aren’t finding too many options here.

With the current economic downturn, nursing will remain more recession proof than most careers, but nurses have to be realistic in their goals today. Hospitals are looking at every possible way to cut costs. Paying high salaries for med/surg nurses is one place they have cut back, whereas they may still be willing to pay for specialty nurses they cannot recruit from their own local community.

In many communities, nurses who had left nursing to raise families or to retire early, have returned to work. Retirement funds such as 401Ks have been lost or significantly impacted, spouses may have lost jobs, and extended family members may be in dire need of financial assistance. For a nurse returning to work after a long hiatus, med/surg is probably the best place to start out and rebuild confidence and skills, so these jobs are scarcer.

One factor that is somewhat beyond the realm of economics is affecting hospitals. This has been a very slow flu season in most of the country. The flu shot for 2008-9 seems to have been effective, and cases are more widespread this year.

In recent days however, the news seems to indicate that this may change. There has been a mutation in the flu specimens of late that appear to be resistant to the Tamiflu antiviral medication. This may result in more complications as patients find that their symptoms are not weakened by this medication.

In a bad flu season, hospitals can become inundated with the elderly and chronically ill as well as the very young. In a slow flu season, censuses remain low and the need for nurses diminishes.

With few elective procedures being performed these days, hospital censuses are also lower as well. On the other hand, as more people put off health care for lack of insurance or funds to pay for medications or rising co-pays, patients who do need hospitalization are generally sicker and need more specialized care.

The need for nurses continues to vary across the country. Some areas will continue to have a strong demand while others may diminish somewhat. Travel nurses will continue to find work, but they may need to change their expectations about locale, perks and salaries. Those who have or attain more specialized experience and skills will have a better chance of being in demand.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of four books including The Everything New Nurse Book and the recently published 150 Tips and Tricks for New Nurses. She is the author/owner of

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